ADA, Okla. – Sand is a substance one hopes to find at a beach, not on a job site. These golden granules add a level of complexity to a road construction project that requires a particular density, as it can be difficult to attain load-bearing requirements in a highly sandy soil. Because particles in a granular soil do not bind together as well as particles in a more cohesive soil, this phenomenon can prevent contractors from achieving a specific density.
However, the challenge of sand is entirely possible to overcome with the help of soil stabilization materials, such as cement kiln dust. This substance, when added to sandy soil, binds the fine granular particles together to increase the soil’s compactibility.
As difficult as it may be, an Ada, Okla., company has turned this challenge into a profitable opportunity. J&S Exchange Inc. has been in the business of selling and transporting soil stabilization material for four years, partnering with general contractors who require stabilization materials to meet jobsite density requirements.
When he decided to expand his business to offer stabilization services, J&S owner Joe Nemecek had two major purchasing decisions to make. The job of leveling the base required the addition of a motor grader to his fleet. The next purchase was a soil stabilizer to properly mix stabilization material into existing jobsite soil. He settled on a motor grader fairly quickly, but “the mixing piece of equipment was a horse of a different color,” Nemecek said. “We had a serious decision to make.”
With the help of local equipment dealership staff, Nemecek set to comparing the features and capabilities of four soil stabilizers. In the end, the BOMAG MPH122 was chosen.
While the MPH122 is smaller than most competitive machines, the crew at J&S was pleasantly surprised by its output, thanks to the unit’s 442-hp engine and 19.7-in. cutting depth. The unit’s ease of operation has proven essential to J&S as well. With a crew of only four, being short an operator can greatly affect how the company functions. However, Nemecek learned first-hand how simple it can be to run the unit.
J&S was recently subcontracted to do the soil stabilization portion of a federal airport runway project in Yukon, Okla., but was without a mixing operator. In order to complete the project on time, Nemecek himself took on the role of MPH122 operator with no prior experience. “I’d never run the machine before, but it was easy enough that I could get comfortable with it in only two hours,” he said. “It just goes to show that even a new operator can learn the unit quickly enough to achieve the productivity we need to keep a project moving along.”
Based on the success J&S has seen with the unit, Nemecek has contracts for more work piling up on his desk. “Contractors have seen that we’re able to complete small and large projects quickly and produce very high quality work,” he said. “That’s led us to receive so much work that we’ve booked jobs through this year and are already bidding on jobs for next year.”